Ductwork Cleaning Primer

One of the drawbacks of living in the desert is that sometimes we are faced with dusty conditions, especially during monsoon season.  The EPA generally doesn’t recommend for air ducts to be cleaned on a regular basis unless there is mold, bacteria, or pest activity in the system. But living here, we know that Valley dust settles and hides everywhere it can, including in ductowrok, which is especially troublesome for allergy sufferers.

Monsoons can severely impact HVAC delivery systems which have been improperly maintained.

Monsoons can severely impact HVAC delivery systems which have been improperly maintained.

Dirty coils and blowers will reduce efficiency by as much as 40 percent, which often represents a substantial energy cost for the homeowner.

 Your HVAC system creates a certain amount of moisture when it’s working normally. As your HVAC system ages, it can also lose some efficiency, which can trigger mold growth. If you have dirt, bacteria, fungus, mold, or residual matter from a pest problem in your duct work, what can you do?

If you have the right equipment and knowledge, doing the cleaning yourself is a good option. If not, that means you have to start looking for a skilled-someone to do the job for you, since ventilation systems which are improperly cleaned can be damaged, resulting in expensive repairs.

You can cast around for the cheapest price possible, since they’re all the same, right? Do you think that guy who offers to do it for $50 is going to brush the foreign matter off the vents and vacuum it out properly?

People who suffer from respiratory ailments benefit from a clean environment.

People who suffer from respiratory ailments benefit from a clean environment.

Unfortunately, a deceptively low price is usually the tactic of a service who will ‘find’ mold or another specialized problem in your ductwork, which will then result in a recommendation that you buy a ‘special’ package, which may include a ‘repair’ or a ‘miracle product’. Another thing you don’t want is a lowball company to blow the debris out of your system and into your home.

In the real world, the number of trunk lines and vents in your system will determine the cost of ductwork cleaning. A bigger system means more cleaning and a higher price, and the work should be done using negative pressure vacuum collection and other equipment which removes the ductwork debris from your home entirely. They should never just blow it out the ducts into your home. Some units are handheld and others are truck mounted. The handheld units are portable, but the truck-mounted units are more powerful. A variety of pneumatic equipment, mirrors, drones, and other items may be employed in the process.
Sometimes a duct cleaning service will recommend chemical biocides or ozone into the ductwork in the event that mold, bacteria or future growth of these organisms in your system. However, the EPA does not recognize the effectiveness of these products, some of which can cause adverse reactions in certain people.

Here are the top reasons professionals say people may benefit from ductwork cleaning:
1.       The HVAC is old or running poorly, or improperly fitting filters have been used in the system.
2.       The property had a roof leak or pipe burst and water got into the system.
3.       A grease fire in the kitchen, or greasy smoke
4.      A musty scent, or the smell of mold
5.       Bats, birds, or small rodents have been living or nesting in the ventilation system.
6.      Visible mold on the register or in the vent when the register is removed.
7.       The home is a new home or an addition is built on the home.
8.       The home has pets that shed or have dander or a smoker lives/lived in the home.
9.       Dust blows out of the vents when the HVAC system turns on.
10.   It has been 3-5 years since the last time the vents were cleaned, especially if there are people with respiratory issues living in the home.


The National Air Duct Cleaners Association has a website is a not-for-profit trade association that serves the HVAC inspection, maintenance and restoration industry. You can go on their website for tips and more information about HVAC air quality issues.